In Rotation: Nigerian Disco, Unique Indie Rock, and Top Tier Rap

This week’s “In Rotation” brings a diverse range of music, old and new, from my Apple Music to yours. With disco and indie rock, here are three projects that have stuck around on my loop over the last week.  

Forever Turned Around // Whitney

Genre: Indie Rock

Release Date: August 30, 2019

After spinning out of Smith Westerns in 2015, guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich introduced Whitney to the world. The group went on to release Light Upon the Lake in 2016, forging the path for their soft indie rock sound to be enjoyed by many. Their new project, Forever Turned Around, is a 10-song exemplification of how a band can take their self-created style to the top of a genre. 

Whitney utilizes soft melodies, lighthearted harmonies, and catchy lyrics to create beautiful highs and lows in each of their tracks, and “Song for Ty” and “Friend of Mine” put that on full display. This group does a stunning job of showcasing their genre influences — whether that be folk shining through on the twangy guitar melodies of “My Life Alone” or the soul and jazz undertones from the trumpet and drum sections of “Rhododendron.” This indie-rock sensation is the must-peep project that will keep your summer feels alive before September ends. 

Doing It in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980’s Nigeria // Various Artists 

Genre: Disco 

Release Date: December 9, 2016

The 1970s Nigerian music scene was dominated by the great Afrobeat genre of the region. However, the sweeping scope of boogie in the 1980s garnered popularity all across the globe, consequently creating a class of Nigerian disco musicians. In 2016, Soundway Records, who has made a career out of re-issuing African, Caribean, Latin, and Asian music, compiled tracks from over twenty Nigerian artists to create this 1-hour 50-minute gem. 

This project features a variety of disco styles, from the vintage dance beat and keyboard melodies on Terry Mackson’s “Distant Lover,” to the fast-paced bass riffs and drums exhibited on “Holiday Action” by Livy Ekemezie. The unforgettable third song on the tape, Steve Monite’s “Only You,” beautifully maintains early boogie influence while featuring electronic elements that only became evident in the 90s. Soundway Record’s inclusion of this track alone provides a reason to give the entire culmination a listen. 

Eve // Rapsody 

Genre: Rap

Release Date: August 23, 2019

Hailing from Snow Hill, NC, Rapsody has blown up on the scene as a talented rapper who lived without her deserved fame for years, until being signed by Roc Nation in 2016. The next year, Rapsody released Laila’s Wisdom, which received Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album and Song. Her latest project, Eve, is an outstanding 16 song ode to historic black women with each song title named after an influence, such as philanthropist and celebrity Oprah Winfrey and the greatest athlete of all time, Serena Williams.

Rapsody has always been phenomenal at displaying her skill alone. But it is her ability to pull in amazing features coinciding with her impeccable performances like on TPAB’s “Complexion (A Zulu Love),” is the largest testament to her talent. The tracks “Ibtihaj (feat. D’Angelo and GZA),” “Hatshepsut (feat. Queen Latifah),” and “Michelle (feat. Elle Varner)” are the pinnacle of this project, cementing Rapsody as one of the most talented rappers of the last few years. Any rap fan who hasn’t explored Rapsody’s discography is missing out on a significant piece of what makes the genre so innovative and fantastic.

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